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Troubleshooting the Kenmore Elite Electric Dryer, Model 110 63932101

Some people seem to be incapable of reading plain English:

I AM NOT AN APPLIANCE REPAIRMAN!!!!

I am a retired software engineer and I put this page up as a favor to people who had a dryer similar to mine. I'm sorry if this page doesn't solve your problem, but calling me a 3AM in the *&@$!&! morning is not going to get your dryer fixed.

We now return you to your normally mild-mannered techbuddy.

To techbuddy customers:

This page is a bit of a departure for your intrepid techbuddy. After a hugely successful fixing of our Maytag dishwasher two weeks ago (which got me a My Hero award from my wife along with a chocolate cake), our dryer stopped drying. We didn't buy this dryer – it came with the house when we bought it 4 years ago – but we hadn't had any problems with it until now. Uttering those famous words, "How hard could it be?", I flung myself into action, only to be flung right back by the *@%*@$! dryer. After hours of searching on the net and trying all manner of things, I finally found a discussion thread that was Talking About My Problem. The following is my way of giving back to all of the people who provided the clues to fix the problem, which was a $35 heater relay.

To Vistors Not Familiar with TechBuddy:

My primary area of expertise is with computers: software, security, servers, sysadmin, yada yada. I most definitely am not an appliance repairman! I've lost a lot more wars with appliances than I've won. This article documents one of the few times I was successful. I appreciate getting notes that you found this page useful, but I'm the wrong guy to write to about general issues with appliances.

If this page doesn't help you, try googling on your make and model and then tack on one or two words, such as 'heat' or 'stops' or something like that. If you're not finding anything, try being a little less specific in your search terms. E.g., don't use the whole model number but just the beginning group. For my case that would mean instead of searching on "Kenmore Elite Electric Dryer, Model 110 63932101" I might have tried "Kenmore Dryer 110". These puppies have a lot of subsystems in common so someone describing their work with a not-quite-identical model may have the answer you need. Good Luck!

OK, Dryer, it's you or me!

A huge Thank You! to the people on the Sears Kenmore Elite Dryer Won't Run If Start Button Released thread at epinions.com. The thread has been growing for more than 6 years and has more than 650(!) resonses to it. If I were Sears I would be very worried about the PR they are getting because of shoddy products and over-priced service calls.

We had a no-heat problem; everything else seemed to work fine. It took a while (it would have been less if I had found and read the thread first), but I finally isolated the problem to the heater relay (part #3405281) (Available at RepairClinic.com). In my quest for knowledge I came up against several obstacles and I thought I would make a one-stop-shopping list of how to overcome them.

The following is specific to a Kenmore Elite Electric Dryer, Model 110 63932101, but it may be of some use for other models. Note item 7: if you have recurring problems it might be the first thing you want to test.

  1. Getting the lower access panel off – what a PITA. It is held in by four clips -- two on the top and two on the bottom. Look into the space above the top of the panel with a flashlight. You will see two clips, each about 4 inches in from the side. Using a putty knife or a flathead screwdriver, slide it between the top of the clip and the cabinet. Press in and down on each clip while pulling out at the top side of the panel. You may need to apply a moderate amount of force to do this. When released, the panel hinges down on the lower clips.
  2. To clear the lint path (after removing the lower access panel), remove the black metal cover that blocks about 50% of the front of the unit. There are sheet metal screws at the top left and right and a spring clip at the bottom. Note: remove the inside lint filter first or you won't be able to remove the cover! (Trust me on this. :-) Removing this cover makes it very easy to check the thermal fuse and the thermistor. BTW, we found an amazing amount of lint inside the cabinet and in the lint path. I don't know if it had anything to do with our heater relay failure (probably not), but we vacuumed everything and checked the exhaust path. This is now on our once-a-month list for things around the house.
  3. Accessing the control panel. Stupid, stupid design. (BTW, unplug the dryer before you do this.) You want to pull off the end caps in order to expose a screw at the base of each. The d*mn end caps are really hard to remove. I ended up removing two screws on the back of the dryer at the top left and right corners. You shouldn't need to do this, but it gave a little more leeway and eventually I got the caps off without breaking them. Once they are off, remove the very long screw inside the base of the panel at each corner. You can now lift the front of the panel and pull it towards you. There is a bundle of wires back there, so it will only come so far, but you can flop it over and get access to all of the interesting electrical bits.
  4. Surprise! There is a troubleshooting guide inside the control panel! Why? Why not just give it to the consumer along with rest of the owner literature? Perhaps it is to prevent consumers from fixing this piece of crap themselves instead of paying outrageous sums to Sears.
  5. Testing various things with an Ohmmeter (If you don't have one you can buy a multimeter for under $10 bucks.) They use the word 'continuity', but I prefer specific ohm numbers. The #xx numbers refer to the Repair Parts List, which is part of the owner's literature packet.
    1. The Thermal fuse (#59, located on the exhaust vent to the right of the blower), high-limit thermostat (#48), and thermal cutoff (#47) (both located on the metal shield around the heating element) want to show an ohm value very close to 0. When mashed together my test leads show a resistance of 0.5 ohms, so that equals 0 for me.

      If the cutoff is blown (reads infinity on your ohmmeter), you should also replace the thermostat. They are normally sold together as a kit.

    2. The thermistor (thermal resistor) (#42, located to the right of the thermal fuse) will show a value from 5-20 K ohms, depending on ambient temperature. We had 62 degrees in the garage, so our 15 K ohms was dead on. (There is a chart in the troubleshooting guide.)
  6. If you don't have heat (our problem) or the motor stops as soon as you let go of the PTS (push-to-start) button (how the thread originally got started), there is a quick test you can do to see if it is a bad relay. There are two identical relays inside the control panel: one for the heater circuit (#15) and one for the motor control (#36). They are both part #3405281.
    1. Unplug the dryer.
    2. Identify the two relays. Looking at the panel from the front, the heater relay is just to the right of the circuit board, and the motor relay is just left of the PTS button and at a slight angle. You probably want to label and/or diagram which wire goes onto each of the spade lugs.
    3. Remove the wires, unscrew the relays and switch them.
    4. Set fabric selector to High and the timer to Timed Dry for 20 minutes (or your favorite number).
    5. Press the PTS button and release it.
    6. What to look for: if you had motor-stops problems before, but now it continues to run but with no heat, you almost certainly had a bad motor relay. If you had motor-runs-but-no-heat problems, but now the motor stops, you almost certainly had a heater relay problem. Try holding the button in for 10 or 15 seconds and observe the heating element. If it starts glowing, then it's about 99.9% certain that it was the heater relay (this was the case with our dryer).
    7. If you have a bad realy it's a snap to fix. The part number is 3405281 and we got ours from RepairClinic.com. You might have a local appliance parts supplier where you can get it more quickly (you know, so those wet clothes don't get all moldy).
  7. There is an interesting item in the hidden guide: the Diagnostic Test. This procedure puts the unit into a beep-when-something-changes mode. Once you are in the mode, everything that causes a "state change" will cause a beep to be emitted. Close the door: beep. Open the door: beep. Fabric selector: beep beep beep. PTS button: in, beep, out, beep. Timer moving from normal to Wrinkle Guard. beep. This last one is useful for testing the timer motor. Move the dial so that it is just before Wrinkle Guard (or some other change on the timer). If the motor in the timer is working correctly, a short time later you will get a beep, meaning that it advanced by itself.

    Getting into this mode was a bit tricky and I couldn't get it to work everytime. What seemed to work was returning the system to a known state.

    1. Plug the dryer in. If it was already plugged in, unplug and replug.
    2. Close the door, set Signal to Off, set Fabric to Air Fluff. Now we are ready to wake the unit up.
    3. Open the door.
    4. Set Signal switch to High.
    5. Set Timer to Timed Dry or Auto. Note: once in test mode, moving from Timed to Auto or vice versa seems to exit the mode, so pick the one you want to test.
    6. Turn Fabric selector from Air to Ultra Delicate and back 3 times in less than 5 seconds.
    7. If you get a "beep, pause, beep, beep," you are in test mode. If you don't get the beeps, try again from step 1. If you still fail after repeated attempts, I would suspect one of the switches or the control board itself.
    Play with things to see if you get a beep. Anything that does not give an expected beep is suspect and gives you something specific to troubleshoot.

Well, there are more tests in the Hidden Guide, but that's enough for now.

    Peace,
    Peter
  Last modified: 2013.09.07 15:28 UTC                          © 2007-2013 TechBuddy.us
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